What Happens When You Put an 18.2 Sprinter in the 500 Free?

Cal Men Def. Pacific

  • October 28, 2022
  • Berkeley, California
  • Short Course Yards (25 yards), dual meet
  • Full Meet Results
  • Team Scores:
    • Cal M 179.5-Pacific 88.5 (Exhibition Aided)

What happens when you put one of the country’s best 50 freestylers in the 500 free at a dual meet?

The most chaotic splitting you’ve ever seen.

The Cal Golden Bears welcomed NorCal neighbors University of Pacific in for a men’s-only dual meet on Thursday. Cal, the defending NCAA Champions, dominated the racing, winning all 14 events contested (though exhibitions late in the meet tamped down their scoring artificially).

With Cal’s stars swimming mostly secondary or even tertiary events at the meet, there were some more-fascinating-than-normal results to come out ot the competition.

The best among that was a 4:39.13 by Bjorn Seeliger in the 500 yard freestyle. Seeliger is the second-fastest 50 yard freestyler in history and one of the front-runners to win NCAA titles in the 50 and 100 yard freestyles this season, but for the first time in his collegiate career on Thursday he swam a race longer than 200 yards.

Seeliger was an okay middle-distance swimmer early in his career. In 2017, at 16-years old, he swam 4:14 in the 400 free in long course; in 2020, he swam 1:53 in the 200 free in long course.

But his 500 free splitting on Thursday was indicative of someone who might be a bit rusty in their pacing of these longer freestyles.

He was out in 50.17, two seconds better than the rest of the field. That lead would not last though, as he ultimately finished 11 seconds behind teammate Jack Meehan, a proper distance swimmer. Here’s what the splits comparison look like:

Meehan Seeliger
100 52.13 50.17
200 54.59 56.12
300 54.98 59.36
400 54.43 59.98
500 51.89 53.5
Final Time 4:28.04 4:39.13
And here’s a simulation of the race that helps you feel what Dave Durden probably felt watching this swim:

Seeliger only swam two races on the day: he led off Cal’s 200 medley relay with a split of 21.22, and after the 500 free he was done.

That medley relay featured Jacob Sunderland on breaststroke (24.62), Liam Bell on fly (20.77), and Jack Alexy on free (19.58).

Bell on the fly leg was rather notable as he was 3rd at the NCAA Championships last year in the 100 breaststroke. In fact, his lifetime best in the 100 breast (50.50) is faster than his lifetime best in the 100 fly (51.24). The fact that he was able to split 20.77 on the medley relay shows an extra gear of athleticism and might give head coach Dave Durden some real pause in this year’s championship season. While his 22.71 breaststroke split was 2nd at NCAAs last year, his 20.77 fly split at this point of the year is among the best in the country so far.

Bell later swam 48.83 in the 100 backstroke for 2nd place, his first swim under 50 seconds. All-American butterflier Gabriel Jett won that race in 46.95, which is a new best time by about a second. Jett later won the 400 IM in 3:54.29.

Last season, Jett’s championship events were the 200 fly (primary), 200 free, and 500 free. His 46-second 100 back, though, makes that event at least worth considering to replace one of those races this season.

Other off events included NCAA 200 backstroke champion Destin Lasco swimming the 200 breaststroke in 1:58.24, which is a new best time. He last swam the 200 breaststroke in January 2022, swimming 2:00, and before that he hadn’t swum it since he was 12-years old.

Lasco was the NCAA runner-up last year in the 200 IM, so that race isn’t totally outside of his comfort zone. In fact, even in a final with great breaststrokers like Carson Foster, Leon Marchand, and the Foster brothers, it was Lasco who had the fastest breaststroke split at 27.98.

Lasco also swam the 200 free, winning in 1:35.61.

Cal’s next meet will be its annual Triple Distance against Stanford on November 4, where each swimmer races three distances of their specialty discipline, with the best cumulative time winning. After that, they head into invite season, with divers heading to the Trojan Diving Invitational from November 11-13, and the swimmers heading to the Minnesota Invitational November 30-December 2.

The Pacific men race next weekend at CSU Bakersfield at home.

Cal’s Press Release

BERKELEY – The No. 1 ranked California men’s swimming team won all 14 events and easily defeated Pacific with a 179.5-88.5 victory Thursday afternoon at Spieker Aquatics Complex.

Cal bookended the meet taking first and second in the 200 medley relay (1:26.19) and the 200 free relay (1:22.14). The Bears had strong showings throughout the day, taking first and second in all but one race. Highlighting the strong performance was Destin Lasco who won the 200 free (1:36.61) and the 200 breaststroke (1:58.24). Gabriel Jett won 100 back (45.95) and the 400 individual medley (3:54.29).

Dylan Hawk and Forrest Frazier got the better of each other in their two head-to-head races. Hawk edged Frazier in the 50 free winning with a time of 20.88. Later in the meet, Frazier got the better of Hawk in the 100 fly finishing with a time of 49.90.
In the 500 free Jack Meehan edged out runner-up Michael Petrides in a terrific race. Meehan clocked in with a time of 4:28.02 just ahead of Petrides who finished with a time of 4:28.44.

Tyler Kopp won the 1000 free (9:19.05). Matthew Jensen won the 100 breast (55.12). Colby Mefford won the 200 fly with a time of 1:47.66. Trent Frandson won the 100 free (45.79) and Chris Jhong won the 200 back (1:48.48). Forrest Frazier won the 100 butterfly that was raced as an exhibition, he finished with a time of 49.90.

Cal 179.5, Pacific 88.5

200 Medley Relay – Bjorn SeeligerJacob SoderlundLiam BellJack Alexy (1:26.19)
1000 Free – Tyler Kopp (9:19.05)
200 Free – Destin Lasco (1:35.61)
100 Back – Gabriel Jett (45.95)
100 Breast – Matthew Jensen (55.12)
200 Fly – Colby Mefford (1:47.66)
50 Free – Dylan Hawk (20.88)
100 Free – Trent Frandson (45.79)
200 Back – Chris Jhong (1:48.48)
200 Breast – Destin Lasco (1:58.24)
500 Free – Jack Meehan (4:28.02)
100 Fly – Forrest Frazier (49.90)
400 IM – Gabriel Jett (3:54.29)
200 Free Relay – Dare RoseHank RiversSebastian SomersetColby Hatton (1:22.14)

The Golden Bears will get back in the pool on November 4 when they travel to Stanford, Calif., to participate in the annual Triple Distance Meet.

Pacific’s Press Release

BERKELEY, Calif. – The Pacific men’s swimming team (2-1) fell to the top-ranked Cal Bears (2-0) Thursday afternoon, 179.5-88.5.

“We swam against the best today, and the guys stayed focused on their races,” said Head Coach Katelyne Herrington. “We swam smart with the number of events each swimmer had while also being a quick session. We are gearing our focus towards our upcoming meet against CSU Bakersfield.”

Junior Aidan Scott took second in the 200 yard backstroke, and sophomore Mitchell Hopper finished second in the 100 yard freestyle to lead the Tigers.

The Tigers took third through sixth in the 1000 yard free, with freshman Ethan Cole taking third, freshman Gabe Windmiller taking fourth, senior Nick Cisco taking fifth, and junior Aidan Vulgas taking sixth.

The 50 yard freestyle race brought a third-place finish for the Tigers thanks to junior Alex Kurotori, and another third-place finish came from freshman Bridger Sink in the 200 yard breaststroke.

Freshman Jack Springer finished the 400 yard individual medley with a time of 4:18; something Coach Herrington is pleased with against a top-ranked Cal team.

The Tigers are back in action at home as they host CSU Bakersfield on Saturday, Nov. 5, at noon at the Chris Kjeldsen Pool.

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10 months ago

I sure hope swimswam did a post race interview with Seeliger and/or Durden for that 500 free. That would be a gold medal clip.

Iambic Pentameter
10 months ago

Love that SwimSwam now has a comedy section.

10 months ago

Active recovery warmdown

10 months ago

What’s the ideal order for the 200 medley relay then this year? 400 looks a lot more clearer but with the breaststroke depth on the roster and using Bell on fly, curious to see what the postseason lineup will be.

Reply to  swimmerTX
10 months ago

I think the difference between Bell and Whitley on breast is still gonna be bigger than Bell and whoever they choose for fly unless Bell can drop something absurd like a 19 low. I’m guessing it’s gonna be Rose on fly given his huge drop in 100 fly lcm.

10 months ago

Would love to see ISL mix it up and have “true” sprinters in distance events for a meet. Flo and Ben Proud fighting out a 400 would be a fun watch.

Reply to  SWIMDOG
10 months ago

Yeah would be just cruel 😂 even if actually Flo did train mid distance when he was young

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
10 months ago

Obviously NCAAs vs dual meet, actual 500y swimmer vs not, but Haas was out 46.3 for comparison

10 months ago

Looks like it’s time to trot this out again…
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10 months ago

love the race simulator!

Reply to  isopropyl
10 months ago

I too ‘love the race simulator’. Just seeing it is neat, and I would enjoy getting a speedy recap of lots of meets this way. BUT! I would prefer you hold the pool still, and just have the racers move. This panning back and forth started to make my head spin. The entire pool was equal to the size of the screen. There was no ‘advantage’ to having to pan back and forth.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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